by Hannah Yukon
America. The land of the free. The land of multiple brands of peanut butter and endless supply of saturated fat. America. Where my father roamed the streets of Memphis on his yellow bicycle with his best friend Marcus, who was both his neighbor and the only Black kid at his school. America. Where he was forced to attend Sunday school and learn Hebrew. America. Where my father majored in Geology and sacrifice, where he worked in the French Quarter with my Uncle, until he escaped to his Fishing Camp alongside the Mississippi River. Where he got a job working on an oilrig in the middle of the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. New Zealand. Where he fell in love with the whispers of open roads and calibrated data. Where he decided to travel and discover the other parts of himself that he never knew existed. He found other neighbors. Australia, Indonesia, Singapore. And just like Marcus, he was the only one. The only White man in his company. The only White man who rode the bus to work, who ate at the spicy, sweaty, hawker centers, with his blue jeans and scent of foreign. Singapore. Where he met a woman at a library who caught his heart and attention discussing Greek mythology and how the cheese in Switzerland doesn’t taste like the Swiss cheese elsewhere. Now, in his red pickup truck, he found a new friend. The distance between the islands created a chasm…a reaction, and now there was another. New Zealand. Where my father became a father. Where he wore his pants on his waist, instead of underneath his belly where they hang now. Where he decided to raise his daughter near her mother. Where he set sail and finally departed for East Asia. Singapore. Where she grew up Catholic. Where she spent the next 19 years of her life not knowing anything else except constant humidity and lackluster dreams and drainpipes that made too much noise when it rained. Singapore. Where she found herself strung between two poles of identity but where she was only allowed to have one. Countless boxes checked ‘other’, because there wasn’t a space for Mixed American Chinese Catholic Jewish girls. Singapore. Where they didn’t teach us about the Holocaust or Slavery because they were too busy teaching us to be similar and to tolerate the differences, if there were any. Singapore. Where she finally decided to sail West for America, with hopes of re-connecting with a part of her that had been squeezed into a box labeled “other”. America. The land of the free. The land of multiple brands of peanut butter and endless supply of saturated fat. America. Where my White roommate asked me why I speak English so well, or what my ‘real name was’, because ‘Hannah’ wasn’t Asian enough.
Hannah Yukon enjoys the beach, cats, and guacamole. Born in New Zealand and raised in Singapore, she pursues her mission of something more she doesn’t know yet, in Worcester, Massachusetts. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.